The Outstanding Ohioans show, Episode 54-Don’t Bureaucrat This One, Conversation with guest host Angus Macleod


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Yes indeed, I am now using the word bureaucrat as a verb.  In this conversation with Angus Macleod, we talked about several topics.  These topics included:

  • Leadership philosophies
  • Delegation
  • what makes working in sports, recreation, and wellness so compelling and fulfilling
  • In customer service, strive not to have staff bureaucrat customer requests as much as possible.
  • Ownership
  • Connection
  • Apathy

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5 great books for working on the personal development of young student athletes

What I like about these books the most is the focus on whole-person development for both coaches and student-athletes.  Great talking points, strategies, and frameworks for getting clarity, focus, and initiative toward being the best person you can be.

the-winners-manual_1    The Winner’s Manual  by Jim Tressel


bilas        Toughness:  Developing True Strength On and Off the Court by Jay Bilas


golden whistle       The Golden Whistle  Going Beyond The Journey to Coaching Success by Jim Burson


joeehrmann        InsideOut Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives by Joe Ehrmann


todd gongwer       Lead for God’s Sake!  A parable for finding the heart of leadership by Todd Gongwer

I would love to hear your recommendations on other books.  Thank you for reading.

The Power of Outside Affirmation, Can We Serve In This Way?

Over the past year, I have found my coaching heavily influenced by Joe Ehrmann‘s book Inside-Out Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives, Todd Gongwer‘s book Leading for God’s Sake:  A Parable For Finding The Heart Of Leadership, and Jay Bilas‘s book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On And Off The Court.  Each of these books challenge the reader to think about WHY they are doing anything.

As coaches, we have to think about having a WHY that transcends wins and losses.  There is not a singular correct WHY, but coaches need to think about the reasons WHY they coach.  Are these reasons for coaching transformational, or transactional (Joe Ehrmann’s work)?  Is your coaching transforming and improving lives in a positive way, or only creating interactions interested in wins and the player doing what he/she is told?

I have recently defined my WHY as:  “To develop positive character through my platform by teaching the fundamentals that will translate to future endeavors”.

As I was watching this video from the Cleveland FCA on Leading For God’s Sake, I started thinking about my WHY and how the so-called “little things” are so crucial to success.  If I can assume the majority of coaches are using their platform to positively develop people, can coaches serve each other by providing outside affirmation to their players?  I think all coaches realize from time to time, our players may begin to “tune us out”.  As coaches, I think most people do not recognize the little things, the dirty work, the tough plays that lead to team success beyond the highlights of the shooter, the pitcher, the home run hitter, the touchdown scorer, the QB sacker.

What power would there be if an opposing coach came up to one of your players as said, “You are the best screener we play against, you do a great job getting your shooters open”.  “You always take the toughest offensive player and battle him for every point”.  “You play unbelievably great help defense, you drawing three charges in that last game changed the momentum to your team”.  “I heard you are in the top three academically of your class, you are the epitome of a student-athlete”.  TALK ABOUT AFFIRMING THE RIGHT THINGS!  This would only help and encourage players to continue to develop and enhance these little-recognized strengths.  We would truly be serving the sport and young people by doing this.  As coaches, we need all players to feel valued in their roles and in their strengths.

In developing these coaching partnerships, I envision the following process:  ask permission of your fellow coach; pull athlete aside in warmups for affirmation; ask fellow coach to do the same.   If we could serve each other as coaches in this way, think about the power of transferring this to everyday life….we are quick to complain, but do we go above and beyond to thank the people that serve us?  This could be the beginning of a whole revolution….professing our gratitude and respect, that’s my dream anyway.  We all know people who already serve others with the compliments, and we all know those people who are quick to complain as well.

There are some questions to this process, and I don’t know if I have the answers.  These include:

-we are competing to win, can we risk building up a player before a game?

-are we affirming the right things?  Should both coaches be present for this affirmation?

Tough choice….am I hurting my team’s chances of winning by boosting another team’s confidence?  Can I trust the other coach to affirm my player, or do I need to be present?   I have witnessed and read stories about this happening already, but usually only the stars receive it.  Again, I believe the guidelines could be laid out and permission given before the warmups begin.

I cannot wait to get back coaching on the sidelines to do this someday, I hope others think about this proposal and consider it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Have a great Monday!

Powerful messages that make the journey seem purposeful….

This past Tuesday, I heard two messages that were so powerful….that boosted my energy like a rocket fuel booster.

Ryan and I began a custom over the last month and a half of walking to preschool, then I go to work from there.  It is about a one-mile walk, which is a challenge for my almost three-year old.  I frequently tell him how proud I am of him for getting this valuable exercise and his toughness to complete the journey.  On the rare instances when he says he wants me to carry him, I praise his perseverance and tell him he is doing what no other kid in his class is doing, which makes him special.

Words cannot describe how much I enjoy getting to spend this time with him.  I was not able to walk with him to school today, and it really bothered me.  We have great conversations and I have so much pride in our connection.

I know Ryan enjoys the time as well, because he always asks to walk and he wants me to take him to school.  During our Tuesday walk, out of the blue, he said “I love walking to school with you Daddy”.  I was so choked up and honored that it has impacted him this way.

This was a great moment, and I was on cloud nine.  Later in the day, one of my university student staff came into my office to chat.  I treasure when Suze comes in to speak to me, she is a rock star on our staff.  She is always there for the team, is enthusiastic, takes great pride in her work, and accomplishes remarkable things.  She is a person who is a beacon for others.

She shared with me that she recently had a valuable “ah-ha” moment.  She realized last week that she was responsible for her attitude and choices, and no one else.

HOW EMPOWERING!  When you hear someone own their life in this way (especially because you are trying to live your life that way), and not willing to give into “victim thinking”, it is INSPIRATIONAL!

I don’t know if I helped Suze get to that state of mind or not, but we have spent enough time together that I believe I contributed at least in some small way.

Hearing these two messages really made me feel like I am living a life of purpose and serving.  I am thankful that they shared their thoughts with me.

I would love to hear what messages have inspired you recently.  Take care.


Blending realistic expectations with an uncommon sense of purpose and work ethic, taking care of your own business on the basketball court

I had the pleasure of taking Ryan and myself to my old high school to watch the Buckeye Lady Bucks (can there be Lady Bucks?) under the leadership of my old basketball coach Randy Haury.  I have done this the last three years whenever I have been in Litchfield visiting my parents during basketball season.  He has always been very gracious about letting me have some input into practice, which I appreciate tremendously.  I hope my input provides some value, and more importantly gives the players another voice to hear reinforce sound concepts.

I got a kick out of watching Ryan on the sidelines during the practice.  He was very animated and verbally into the action.  I did not understand everything he was saying, but I loved seeing the enthusiasm.  I enjoyed getting him into the athletic environment so he gets acclimated to what happens.

Coach Haury has a young team with low numbers of upperclass students and little varsity game experience.  An outstanding win/loss record may be difficult to achieve, but he is looking forward to the journey and the learning that will take place.  He believes if they can be successful fundamentally, they will have a chance to be very competitive.

During practice, I did some coaching on fundamental skills.  However, I thought the area for greatest improvement was in team communication.  The first thing I noticed during drill work was there was very little communication amongst teammates.  This team has NO chance to be competitive without positive basketball communication between teammates.  Communication is just as critical a skill as offense and defense, and in fact is the only constant on both ends of the floor.  The communication needs to be supportive and affirming, as well as tactical.

I think the team’s most talented player, Sara, has a chance to be an outstanding leader and solid player.  We had the discussion about being responsible for Sara being the team’s most competitive and hardest worker so she would have leadership credibility with her teammates.  She has a tough choice to make, be a nice teammate or a leader who may ruffle some feathers.  I hope she makes the leadership choice, I saw some good examples in practice that I really liked.

The communication aspect is really important for this team, because they need a sense of purpose and develop an exceptional practice work ethic so they are getting better everyday.  Improvement for game performance will not happen without this occurring.  This is a collective responsibility that needs to be embraced by those players committed to excellence.

I went to practice on a Saturday morning.  I am curious to see how many players picked up basketball AT ALL before practice on Monday afternoon.  How many players thought about the game?  The answer may provide some indication on the level of commitment the team currently has.

When a lack of win/loss success or lack of playing time, there becomes an immediate reaction that it must be the coach’s fault.  There is a serious lack of personal accountability within the players and parents when these issues arise.  I hope players can consult this list and see if they are doing these things before they begin to blame others.

What every basketball player can and cannot do

  • Did you make 100 game speed shots/day?
  • Are you in better cardio shape than anyone else?
  • Are you playing good defense, including help defense and boxing out?
  • Are you communicating on the floor?
  • Are you turning the ball over?
  • Are you pushing your teammates by going hard in every drill and scrimmage?
  • Are you pushing yourself hard, or pacing yourself during practice and games?
  • Are you making things easy or difficult for your opponent?
  • Are you trying to make things better yourself, or are you blaming others?

Being part of a team can be a great thing, or it can be a terrible thing.  My encouragement is to look inward to be personal accountable FIRST, walk the walk, and then you have the credibility to talk the talk.  Come from a position of strength and commitment.

I would love to hear your comments.


Compliments, Constructive Criticism, and Silence

I recently read the GREAT autobiography on Pat Summitt called Sum It Up.  I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership or coaching position, as well as a parent.  This book details her amazing journey growing up as a farm kid in rural Tennessee to starting her college playing and coaching career as Title IX was coming to the forefront.  She succeeded by any measure and overcame tremendous personal setbacks to reach the pinnacle of her profession.  In recent years, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had to relinquish her coaching position at the height of her powers.

I knew she was a demanding coach, but this book really inspired me to work harder and demand more of myself and people I work with.  Her ability to get her players to become physically and mentally tough, be fundamentally outstanding, overcome odds, and use their gifts to blend into outstanding teams is at a rare level.

Her demanding style is referenced throughout the book, but a specific tactic that I want to implement soon hit me like a hammer.  She was referencing a time in her career when she felt her players were only hearing her criticisms, and not her compliments.  To get her players to hear both equally, she instructed everyone in the program, when receiving a compliment, to say “two points”.  This acknowledgement of receiving the compliment made the impact greater.  When receiving a criticism, the recipient was to say “rebound”.  This served to demonstrate the recipient heard the criticism, and was going to try to bounce back, i.e. rebound, to take action to correct the issue.

Regardless of where we are in life, I haven’t found a person yet who can honestly say they give and take constructive criticism as well as they would like. Some people only want to hear compliments.  Some people only want to hear how they can improve.  Some people  don’t want to be “bothered” with anything at all.

It is a special talent to be able to give valuable criticism, and perhaps even more so to be able to take criticism from others without getting defensive.  I personally struggle this one the most, especially with my wife.  I am working everyday to develop the toughness to improve in this area.

I would love to hear your comments in any of these topics today.  Take care.

Warmest Regards,